Sam Curran falls short as India clinch cliffhanger to seal ODI series
India 329 (Pant 78, Dhawan 67, Hardik 64 beat England 322 for 9 (Curran 95*, Malan 50, Thakur 4-67, Kumar 3-42 by seven runs
Sam Curran’s gutsy innings took England to the verge of an unlikely win before T Natarajan held his nerve to ultimately deliver India victory in Pune, in a tense and fitting finale to the ODI series that went 2-1 to the hosts.
India were out of the blocks well with bat and ball, openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan laying the foundation before Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya provided middle-order muscle when captain Virat Kohli lost the toss for the third time in the series and was asked to bat first.
But it was the bowling of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shardul Thakur that allowed them to defend what looked like being a below-par total, especially in the face of some woeful Indian fielding, keeping England’s run chase in check for the most part until Curran’s fightback.
Curran, whose previous highest score from seven ODIs was 15, was reprieved on 22 when he was dropped by Hardik. He made India pay – and sweat – with a stunning 95 not out off 83 balls from No. 8 under huge pressure as England went into the final over needing 14 to win.
Natarajan, known for his ability to nail his yorkers and bowl at the death, came into the side in what Kohli described at the toss as a “tactical” move to replace spinner Kuldeep Yadav. Playing just his second ODI, Natarajan conceded just six runs when his captain threw him the ball for the final over as the hosts claimed victory by seven runs.
Half-centuries to Rishabh Pant, Dhawan and Hardik had India looking strong at times as the momentum swung more than once in their innings. Having managed 39 for 0 and 41 for 2 in their previous two batting powerplays, India’s openers began with greater intent and aggression. They were 16 for nought after four overs but then Curran conceded 15 runs off the fifth and they took 17 off the eighth, bowled by Reece Topley, to accelerate their cause.
The hosts lost four wickets in the first 25 overs, and four in the last 20 balls as they were bowled out with 10 balls remaining. That left England needing seven runs fewer than they had managed to chase down with ease in levelling the series 1-1 on Friday.
But when Kumar struck in an extraordinary first over of England’s reply in which Jason Roy crashed 14 runs but fell on the last ball, bowled through the gate by a gem, and then had Jonny Bairstow out lbw, India couldn’t have hoped for better. Kumar should have had a third wicket from as many overs when Ben Stokes, on 15, attempted a straight drive and skied the ball to mid-off, where Hardik put down a sitter.
England steadied to reach 66 for 2 after 10 overs, compared to India’s 65 for nought, but then Stokes advanced on a full toss from Natarajan that was, fortunately for the bowler, dipping from near waist-height by the time the batsman met it and swiped it straight to Dhawan at square leg.
With plenty of batting depth to come in acting captain Jos Buttler, Dawid Malan and Liam Livingstone – the latter two having come into the side after Eoin Morgan and Sam Billings were injured in the first match – it was a three-wicket run by Thakur that put India within grasp of adding an ODI series victory to their Test and T20I triumphs from England’s tour.
Thakur trapped Buttler lbw in his second over after India overturned the on-field umpire’s not-out decision on review and while Malan and Livingstone resisted with a 60-run partnership, Thakur accounted for both as England fell to 168 for 6.
Livingstone, playing only his second ODI, was particularly impressive, skipping down the pitch to whip Thakur through midwicket for a confident single on the first ball he faced and then helping himself to consecutive fours off Thakur and Prasidh Krishna, before coming down the pitch to Krunal and depositing him over long-on.
After 23 overs, England were 152 for 4 compared to India’s 151 for 3 but then Livingstone spooned a Thakur full toss tamely back for a return catch and Malan brought up his maiden ODI fifty pulling Thakur for four only to fall two balls later, pulling a Thakur short ball to Sharma at midwicket.
More to follow
Innings India 329 (Pant 78, Dhawan 67, Hardik 64, Wood 3-34, Rashid 2-81 vs England
England will chase 330 to win the third and final ODI and take the series after they bowled India out with ten balls to spare in Pune on Sunday.
Half-centuries from Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya had India looking strong at times as the momentum swung more than once in the innings, but England must have gone into the break the happier of the two teams despite the steep chase. England’s spinners made the early inroads after a century opening stand from Rohit Sharma and Dhawan, before Mark Wood’s three wickets at the end restricted India to a total that the tourists would regard as attainable, given that they successfully chased down 337 with 39 balls up their sleeves to level the series on Friday.
India’s openers began with more intent and aggression than in the previous two matches, Sharma and Dhawan guiding their side to 65 without loss after ten overs, compared to the 39 for no loss in the first match and 41 for 2 in the second.
They started sedately and were 16 for nought after four overs, but signalled a shift in gears in the fifth, which went for 15 runs as Sharma began with consecutive fours off Sam Curran before Dhawan joined in.
England held control over the next two overs, one of them a maiden from Wood, who appeared to be battling illness throughout the innings. The Indian pair responded well, as Dhawan helped himself to three boundaries off four Reece Topley deliveries and then Sharma punished a full toss to the fence through midwicket.
Sharma and Dhawan brought up India’s 100 from 14 overs and their 103-run stand came off 91 balls before Adil Rashid made the breakthrough in his second over, the 15th of the innings, with a googly that beat Sharma’s inside edge and hit the top of off stump.
It was a double-strike for Rashid, who dismissed Dhawan with a sharp caught and bowled in his next over and, when Moeen Ali got Virat Kohli out cheaply, shaping to smash him through extra cover only to miss and see the ball jag back to take out leg stump, India were 121 for 3.
Liam Livingstone, playing only his second ODI and bowling for the first time, claimed a wicket with his second ball, a hip-high full toss on leg stump that KL Rahul swiped behind square where Ali took the catch leaping to his left.
With Wood off the ground, England had three spinners in action and the fact they accounted for all four wickets to fall at that point may have given India some food for thought after they opted for the death-bowling option of left-arm seamer T Natarajan over left-arm wristspinner Kuldep Yadav, who had been expensive as England’s batsmen went to town in the second ODI.
Pant responded in Livingstone’s next over with a six and a four off consecutive balls but Livingstone managed to contain the damage with three dot balls. Hardik then went after Ali with three sixes in the next over as he and Pant wrested back control, illustrating the fluctuating nature of the contest.
Curran ended Pant’s knock with a full delivery that found the outside edge and Jos Buttler’s glove, thrust out to his left at tremendous speed behind the stumps. Pant had shared a 99-run stand with Hardik, who brought up his fifty off 36 balls and was joined at the crease by brother Krunal upon Pant’s departure.
Ben Stokes bowled Hardik round his legs attempting to turn the ball to fine leg to end his innings on 64.
Shardul Thakur offered a neat cameo of 30 from 21 balls and Krunal, playing his third ODI after making a half-century on debut in the first match of this series, managed 25 before holing out to Jason Roy off Wood. But their wickets were among four to fall in the last 20 balls of the innings, which yielded just 11 runs as India fell away to Wood and Topley, Wood ending with 3 for 34 from seven overs.
Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo